Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Force on Force battle report

Some time ago I played a game of Ambush Alley and really rather liked it. As a set of squad level modern rules, it is fast, fun, unpredictable, but seems to provide a good feel for modern, street level combat. Since then Osprey have released Force of Force, which takes the mechanics of AA, and expands the whole system to cover a much wider range of engagements than the urban combat against irregulars which is modeled in the original Ambush Alley.

Force on Force is a fatter book, and more mechanics have been tacked on to it, but it is well laid out, with modular rules which one can absorb over time. Hence I read up on the basics as well as the chapter on infantry combat, and then invited Kelvin round for a game. At the end of the infantry chapter is a sample scenario, using the battle for Fallujah in Iraq in 2004 as the background.

In this case two US squads need to cross the table and occupy a pair of target buildings at the end. In the way are seven units of Iraqi fedayeen, occupying pre-assigned buildings. Although they were classed as irregulars, we were not using the asymmetric engagement rules from later in the rules manual, partly because it was Kel's first game, and partly because there was enough new chrome in this game that I didn't want to start worrying about hot spots and out of contact movement.

"You're not in Kansas anymore Dorothy!"


Kelvin took the role of the US side, which meant he had initiative for the first four turns. Out of a total nine turns he kept it for seven (I think). He used a walled compound to get his squads to move quickly to the objective without the fedayeen getting a bead on him. One fire team occupied a tower to provide overwatch and lay down some covering fire.

US fireteam using overwatch to cover the advance,


Another fire team stormed the house which was one of the key strong points of the defenders, taking two prisoners. Most of my guys were finding it hard to react to the US advance, as their Troop Quality (TQ) was D6, although morale was high at D12. Kelvin's troops were fighting at D8/D10. Both sides were rated as Confident. The game system focuses more heavily on relative training and morale and tends to abstract differences in hardware, so that you don't need to worry about the rate of fire of an AK47 versus an M16 for example.

Two fire teams prepare to storm an enemy strong point.


Once the Americans had occupied the building, a big firefight developed with the building next door. It was the fedayeen team in this building that would probably do most of the fighting with the Americans. By the end of the game, the fedayeen still held it, although they were pinned down and every single one of them was wounded. It was interesting to see how the system modeled a squad gradually being reduced in effectiveness, to the extent that they could hardly influence the battle at all, although they still technically held their position.

Storming party goes in. Red bead = a hit on them.


Kelvin kept up his advance, but this is where the first relevant Fog of War card was pulled, giving the Iraqis an off-table sniper, who inflicted some damage on one of the US fire teams before he was reassigned.

Target buildings in distance - red counter means squad has one serious wound.


Crucially, I managed to occupy one of the target buildings with a squad of my own, but they took a lot of enemy fire, and with their leader seriously wounded, were not able to do more than react to fire towards the end of the game.

US has taken one target, but many soldiers are wounded.


Kelvin occupied one of the target buildings, but the fire team that managed it had too many wounded, plus three accompanying POWs and they were suffering from dehydration (Kelvin is having problems with water in war games, having suffered a Bad Water event in the last game of The Sword and The Flame).

Last turn of game - fedayeen on right were only squad still unscathed.


We reached the end of the game with not enough US troops in position, and one US infantryman killed in the very last turn as he was running across a street. However, losses among the fedayeen had been heavy (two units virtually wiped out, and all but one ineffective due to casualties), and with three captured as well, Kelvin was able to claim victory honours at 25-16.

I still really like this system. It doesn't take too long to play. It uses a small amount of space. You don't need very many figures. It forces you to think hard about your tactical choices. And it does feel relatively realistic. I'm keen to play more.

1 comment:

  1. Kelvin is having problems with water in war games

    Indeed. I'm not going anywhere near any naval games!

    I thought I'd lost the game when your chaps occupied the building and everyone else was too far away.

    I really liked this one. The system is light but intuitive -- the first aid rules aside -- and it's got just the right level of abstraction.

    I found a good set of quickstart rules that clear up a lot of the confusion we had over things like turn order.

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